Fiat Tipo

The Tipo marks Fiat’s return to the C-segment. Low emissions and lightweighting should help it compete

The system is well understood and, most importantly for a vehicle such as the Tipo, cost-effective too.

Some adaptations have been made to the set-up, specifically to the dampers. “The dampers in the front and rear shock towers have a vertical displacement because they aren’t inclined as in other competitor solutions – so they work exactly in the direction of the movement of the wheel,” says Cornacchia.

He also mentions another benefit of the suspension system: “It helps us take advantage of the space inside because you don't have anything that intrudes in the car.”

That helps to maximise load space in a vehicle that is 4,368mm and 4,571mm long in the hatchback and wagon, giving a luggage area of 440 litres and 550 litres respectively.

In conjunction with the column-mounted electrical power-assisted steering, on a test route around Turin, Italy, the Tipo’s ride and handling was good at dialling out imperfections in the road surface, and gave confidence through corners.

What was also noticeable was the cabin noise level, and for good reason. Engineers paid particular attention to NVH levels.

“The data that we have from the articulation index shows that we achieved 85% – that’s very high,” says Cornacchia.

The result was reached because emphasis was placed on virtual analysis, so the development team could find problem locations and solutions quickly and easily. Cornacchia doesn’t give any examples of what they found, but virtual engineering was incredibly important on the Tipo.

“In terms of the workforce, we did more virtual than physical engineering on the Tipo project,” says Cornacchia. “Of course we did at least nine million kilometres and tested engines in laboratories but virtual testing was a big effort. The point is that virtual areas are embedded in the design and engineering activity.”

World-class facilities

And while virtual testing helped with NVH, it also aided engineers in achieving their targets for aerodynamics, and in turn with overall vehicle efficiency.

“We have a centre in Turin where we have a world-class wind tunnel, but we also have a team that conducts CFD at the same place. The aerodynamic science lab does data analysis and tests in the wind gallery,” says Cornacchia.

The OEM’s facilities have been refurbished and now include a rolling carpet so that engineers can change the standing height of the car and the inclination without having to stop the test. Not only is this used for series production vehicles but also for race cars, something Cornacchia is proud of.

The work conducted at the facility is the reason why the Tipo manages to emit only 89g/km CO2 in both hatchback and wagon form from the most efficient 88kW/320Nm 1.6-litre diesel engine when linked to a six-speed manual transmission. That equates to 3.4 litres/100km.

Some of that is achieved through using stop-start and integrating the active grille, but Cornacchia is also keen to highlight the engineers’ work on lightweighting, and the transfer of knowledge from more premium vehicles.

tags: July-August 2016 Fiat Chassis